During my search for the perfect whoopee pie, I was sent this recipe by a reader of my blog, whose mother in law, Mrs Linda Daunt, has lived all her life in Maine, New England and is a fantastic cook. Mrs Daunt's special touch is to add buttermilk instead of regular milk, to give the pies a richer taste. The original recipe uses a marshmallow-type filling, but I prefer to stick with regular buttercream frostings.
One of my favourite things to do is to talk on the topic of food with my granny. Learning to cook armed only with cookbooks and a passion for art, with eight hungry mouths to feed and very little money, my granny developed some of the most resourceful cooking skills I know. I love that with barely anything in the house she can produce something incredibly elegant, such as soufflés, without thinking twice. This is a light and rather sophisticated cake that relies heavily on store-cupboard ingredients and is a perfect example of her skill in being able to produce something incredibly impressive out of everyday items.
At one of my recent cookery demonstrations I got a great tip to make an all-in-one white sauce, which simplifies the process here. There are two things that are key to this method: the milk must be cold when you start, and remember to keep whisking vigorously until the sauce thickens. If you want to take this simple recipe one step further, add some fried smoked streaky bacon bits. This is a great dish for a leftovers lunchbox the next day.
Hearty food like this meaty chilli makes me very happy inside; it’s full of great spices and filling ingredients, and best of all it feeds a crowd. Using finely chopped meat here rather than mince gives a really interesting texture to the chilli.
Roasted squash produces wonderful soups with a velvety consistency when blitzed smooth. The addition of coconut milk adds a creamy and exotic flavour, but if you don’t want to use it, you could replace with vegetable stock. This is a warming soup, ideal in autumn and winter. Serves between four and six people.